These two suave men give the cast of “Mad Men” a run for their money. Both Peter Sarsgaard and Dominic Cooper prefectly represent two men in the 60′s looking to live a life of luxury in Lone Scherfig’s upcoming romantic drama An Education. Although according to “Sars” (that’s what Carey Mulligan was calling him, so why can’t we?), luck has more to do with his characters success than his ability to be in any way cool and/or smooth… he had me fooled.
The duo is both strong and sexy, while remaining secretive and distant. Both work together to bring two immensely different characters to the screen that will blow you away.
Last week I had the opportunity of sitting around a table and talking to Sars and Cooper about their role in this sure to be Oscar nominated film.
Check out the interview below…
So how did each of you come to your respective parts in this film?
Dominic: I had ummm… someone dropped out. (laughter)
Peter: No, he came in last minute.
Dominic: I did come in last minute. Which was great, it was nice. I was literally finding out I got the job to film it two days before, or something ridiculous.
Peter: No, I remember when you showed up and you had very modern hair and they were like “right, well just um….”
Dominic: They were referring to me as the other person… (laughter)
Peter: They called you the other actors name… oh dear.
Dominic: I think it was the fact that Nick Hornby had written a fantastic screenplay and I think anyone, I knew a lot of his books when I heard that he had written the original screenplay from the memoirs, I was very interested. I met Lone quite early on, our director, her name…I still can’t pronounce it. L-onn
Peter: (corrects Dominic) L-own
Dominic: And she is totally inspiring…
Dominic: You were in the film before the director was.
Peter: I was.
Dominic: I don’t know how you achieved that, that’s amazing.
Peter: I’d been sent the script and they were just looking to get it going and I had no idea why I had been offered this role to play an Englishman and a Jewish man, none of which I am. And I just thought, if for some reason they want me, I’m game for doing it. You know, sometimes you get offered a part and it’s just so well written that even though you can’t quite figure out how you could possibly play it, you try because there’s not a lot of great material out there. And then I realize later on that the fact that I was not English and not Jewish, was kind of an outsider and pretending to be this guy and doing an accent that is not my own and who even knows if the accent he’s doing in the movie is his own, you know he’s a guy who lives in fantasy and pretend-land and it was no stretch to have me play it. If I had had to be “authentically” this person in every way, you know like an authentic man, a guy who lives chopping wood and farming and is from the countryside, is a very simple man and straightforward would have been a lot more difficult for me.
Dominic: That very rarely happens, but when you do get a script like that, where his characters are so well rounded and there’s so much humor to them and they’re so layered, that actually it’s not a big challenge. You can just sort of fall into it. If you just say his lines, they sort of come across.
Peter: That’s all I did, yeah. (laughter)
So how do you justify your characters behavior?
Peter: Well it’s a complicated question. I don’t see it that way. I just feel like he wants the same things she wants, he wants to rise above the ordinary, to live a poetic, interesting life, to not just go to the same job everyday and come back to the same wife. He has a fantasy of the way he wants his life to be and he makes it happen. He’s not out to kill people or rape them or sell drugs to their children, you know. A lot of what he’s interested in isn’t negative and there’s no premeditation in anything he does. There may be later on to sort of save face and keep things going, but I really do believe he’s driving his car down the street one day and he saw a girl sitting on the side of the road with a cello and it was raining and he just took things one step at a time. I mean, it wasn’t like…he’s not a pedophile or anything like that.
I’ve played so many characters that did such horrible things that I keep getting asked that about this character, but when I played John Lotter in Boys Don’t Cry and I threw Hillary Swank on the hood of a car and raped her, everyone was like “oh, yeah, that was good.” (Laughing) Somehow this guy needs defending or something like that, but to me it’s so common, what he does. I’m certain that some of the reviewers who have said like, “I can’t believe what he did, it’s so horrible,” they probably themselves have done the same thing. Look at what percentage of people live lives where they’re faithful to their wives, you know, I mean people do things that are hurtful to other people frequently but a lot of the time it’s for temporary pleasure you know? And I think that’s what he’s after.
The relationship between Danny and Jenny is actually very interesting, it seems like there’s more going on there than is in the film, kind of more interest on Danny’s part?
Dominic: Yeah, I’ve probably seen him do this over and over again with various women but not really care about it too much and at last I find this one girl who is seduced into his wagon and I go actually this girl is really interesting, is into the same things I’m into and I’m probably like, Danny’s probably actually the one person who has that background and that education and the wealth and surrounds himself in all his beautiful objects and goes to museums and listens to music. And this girl turns up who is equally as fascinated and I think he’s probably very keen on that.
Peter: It’s funny, it might just be that I’m still seeing it from his perspective, but I watched the movie, and there’s a reference to that there’s been other girls, I was like well she’s clearly lying.
Peter: To me she is. I mean, why else would she tell this young girl that there had been many others? Expect to make her feel bad. So I don’t necessarily even believe that.
Dominic: You don’t think you’ve had many…you don’t think you’ve done this before?
Peter: I might’ve done it before but I don’t think it’s as pathological as she makes it sound like. I think she’s kind of being like a vindictive C-U-N-T.
But you’re so polished at doing it. It gives the impression that you’ve done it before. That you were relishing the chase…
Peter: Really? See I don’t think I’m that polished at doing it…
Dominic: Well no, he never should have left the letters in the glove box. First mistake.
Peter: No… that was foolish. Well everybody wants to get caught at some point.
I always check the glove boxes of married men I go out with, so…
Peter: I mean I don’t think I’m that polished at doing it but someone the other night said, “Oh you’re so suave,” and I’m not that suave!
Yeah, but to a seventeen year old….
Peter: Yeah but to any woman older than twenty watching the movie, they’re like, “What’s a goin’ on here?” You know, I mean is it really that suave to compliment the mother the way that I do it…
Dominic: Absolutely! It works every time. Every time.
Peter: Well see, he’s suave.
Do you think people get that impression maybe because he also charms both the parents?
Peter: The parents are innocents also. The parents might as well be sixteen. Honestly, they both have like a rather limited view of the world, they’re sweet. I think that’s why I get along with them. You know, we’re all just sort of, we’re all innocent in the movie in some way cause I even see my character as like kind of innocently doing something not that great, you know? I don’t know how else to describe it…it’s not like he’s like, “hmmm, I think tomorrow I’m going to compliment the mother, bring over flowers, dadadada.” I don’t think he’s going like, then if I do that I can set up Paris, and then the way I’m going do that is…
He falls in love with her too, right?
Peter: Yeah, and when she goes like, “oh you’ll be able to get them to take me to Paris,” what do I actually do? I was watching that scene last time and I was like what’s the brilliant thing I do to get us to go to Paris? Nothing.
Peter: I mention it, I laugh, I apologize for having brought it up. Where’s the sweet move man. There is none.
It was the nonchalance but, I didn’t see it says love story because the girl never said she loves your character, it was attractive, interesting, it was about the life, but nothing about love.
Peter: No, I think the thing that bonds them is actually that they have the, what I was talking about before, is that they, neither one of them wants to live and ordinary life. They’re both people that are interested in living extraordinary lives because around them all the time everybody’s taking the same tube to work, doing the same job, coming home, eating the same grool and mush and half a pint of beer and going to bed and not having sex again and you just feel like these people want to kinda…and that’s what happens later in the sixties, is that everyone goes like screw that rule, you don’t have to go to school, you don’t have to do this, you don’t have to live the way the man wants you to. All of those rules break down and I think that these two people are part of that growing feeling.
Besides the very interesting way to pronounce Lone, can you tell us a little bit more about the way she was as a director?
Dominic: Well I suppose the worry or what you find out when…the moment I met her was that you’re looking at a very particular class, in a very particular society, at a very particular time in London, and she seemed to have observations of that time, maybe it takes a set of eyes from elsewhere to look into that world, she really knew much more than I certainly did about it having grown up in London. But also I think it was the ease of which she kind of made everyone feel, and on the set as well, it was a very comfortable atmosphere and we had a lot of fun making it which I think was very much needed, especially with regards to the group of friends that needed to seem as though they were having a great time together. I thought she was brilliant. She was really helpful and I loved working with her.
Peter: Ros, was really the kind of organizer for good times.
Dominic: Yes, she was actually.
Peter: She’s like, “We’re all going to go to this play.”
Dominic: Or dancing.
Peter: We’re going to go dancing…remember that place? Everyone’s dressed up like it’s 1960.
Dominic: And they were professional dancers as well.
Peter: And they are, we were just like wallflowers watching.
Any insights into eventual DVD bonus features, you guys get together for commentary or deleted scenes?
Peter: Commentary. Deleted scenes, she mentioned deleted scenes. I think that’s Lone’s wish though, I don’t know if that’s actually going to be in it.
See Peter and Dominic in full swing this Friday October 9th when An Education hits theaters.